How to Work in a Group
When you work in a group, your group members are your learning team – the people who
will help you learn. The members in your group may change from activity to activity but
each time you work in a group you should expect to take on a specific role within that
group and carry out the responsibilities for that role.
How Do Groups Actually Work Together?
1. Take a few minutes and think about some past experiences you’ve had working in a
group. In Table# 1 below, write down a few thoughts about what’s good about doing
group work and what’s not so good about doing group work.
What does a good group LOOK like ?
The way you sit in a group DOES affect how you work as a group. Please sit in your
groups all facing each other so that everyone
can speak with and listen to everyone equally.
( When you sit in a row, it usually means that the person on one side can be (or feel) left
2. We’ve all had problems working in groups before and there are many reasons why
that can happen. Let’s brainstorm a bit individually about what sort of problems might
come up while we’re doing group work in our class.
This exercise is about looking at general problems that groups encounter, this
is NOT about any specific group or person that you have worked with in the
In left-hand column of Table #2 below, record your top 3 reasons why groups might not
work well together.
Reasons Groups Might Not Work Well
How could we fix the problems ?
While the people you work with in a group may change from project-to-project or from
unit-to-unit, every time you work in a group you will have a specific role and you will be
responsible for certain things.
There are 3 different major roles that need to be taken on within a group : Manager,
Recorder, and Speaker.
Role & Responsibilities (What it
-make sure everyone reads the
instructions before you start
What it “sounds like”
-keep your group “on-track” and on-time
“We need to move on, but let’s go back to this
later if we have time.”
-encourage everyone in the group to
“Joe, what do you think about this suggestion ?”
-write down the information for your group
-check to make sure all members of the
group understand and agree on the plans
& actions you’re writing down
“Has everyone had a chance to read this before
we start ?”
“Do we all understand this diagram the way
that I’ve drawn it out?”
“Is everyone okay with me writing down
these reasons for our answer ?”
-make sure that the names of all your
group members are on all your work
“Is there anything else that we need to add
that I may have missed putting down?”
-speak up for your group when your group
is called upon in a discussion or activity
“What other ways could we do this?”
-help your group make sure that they
explore all possibilities by keeping the
conversation going – ask “why?” “how?”
-suggest other ideas or alternatives to
“Let’s look at this problem another way and
“I’m not sure that we’re actually answering
that question the way we’re supposed to,
let’s take another look at this. “
plans in order to keep up the energy of the
Now, move into the groups that you were assigned today and let’s practice
what we’ve talked about! Decide who in your group will have each of the 3
roles today, and complete the following steps.
Step 1: Discuss with your group what can make group work good or not so good.
Summarize your results from Table #1 on the chart paper provided to your group.
Step 2: Discuss with your group reasons why groups might not work well together AND
complete Table #2 by brainstorming ideas about how what we’ve talked about today could help
to solve those problems (to fill the right hand column of that table). Summarize your
information from Table # 2 on the same chart paper, below the first table.
Step 3: Your speaker will present the information to the rest of the class, although all of your
group will be standing up to help support your speaker for the day.